- 5416 E. Pima St., Tucson, AZ, 85712
- Overall User Rating:
- (1 rating)
- Mon.-Fri. 6 a.m.-2 p.m., Sat. 6 a.m.-1 p.m., Sun. 7 a.m.-1 p.m.
What was ordered: Grilled barbecue meatloaf and cheese sandwich ($5.40), chicken-fried steak ($7.30), coffee ($1.60) and soft drink ($1.90) for a total of $17.51 including tax, well within our Cheap Eats goal of a meal for two for less than $20.
Comments: I’ve been told I have a flair for the obvious, but even I am not going to hammer the obligatory Arlo Guthrie angle on this one.
First of all, it’s too obvious, even for me. Secondly, as much as I respect Arlo ( I myself prefer “Coming into Los Angeles” to “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree”), any more time spent with him and his 18-minute yarn would take away from this nifty little diner and its good, no-nonsense food and service.
Tucked into the corner of a throw-back strip mall that also sports a hardware store and shoe repair shop, Alice’s is squeaky clean considering the clutter of Coca-Coca memorabilia lining the walls and stacked on every available inch of shelf space. This time of year, it looks a lot like Santa’s attic, and any children you may be dining with will be appropriately distracted from whatever boring conversation you may be leading by the diverse collection of toys and doodads.
Comfortable, old-school booths line the west wall opposite a dining counter. The menu is every bit as traditional as the diner’s layout, but also offers some Mexican fare and a few signature items, chief among them the Grilled barbecue meatloaf and cheese sandwich, which we had to try.
I’m not a huge meatloaf fan, and the combination of loaf, cheese, sweet sauce and bread had me thinking it would taste like a kitchen accident. Though it was a decidedly sweet affair, I was pleasantly surprised by the way the barbecue sauce, American cheese and toasted sourdough combined to complement the notably soft and supple meatloaf. A little sprinkling of pepper had me reveling in the unique ensemble of flavors and textures in the sandwich and appreciating the quality of the meatloaf on which it was built.
The chicken-fried steak was modest and unassuming, and consequently just to our liking. The batter on the steak was crispy rather than soggy and, more importantly, didn’t overwhelm the steak. The light gravy was pleasantly mild and smooth as opposed to the over-salted and clumpy versions sometimes encountered at diners. The gravy also excellently complemented a generous portion of whipped potatoes, which were so smooth and creamy they had us thinking they came from a box. Regardless of their origin, they were nicely prepared and complemented the meal.
Service: Tableside service was professional, prompt and friendly in true diner-style tradition.
Bottom line: The prices here are notably reasonable for both breakfast and lunch selections, particularly given the good service and clean, comfortable setting.
By any other name, Alice’s Restaurant is a classic hit.